Beijing’s Forbidden Museum Blossoms

Above: The northern gate of Beijing’s Forbidden City.

Beijing’s top tourist attraction welcomes 14 million visitors every year, but a recent development of unprecedented global scope is nearing completion and could have profound implications on visitor numbers.

“Its attraction is closely related to its abundant collections,” said the Palace Museum’s curator, Shan Jixiang.

The Forbidden City, which houses the museum, was built in 1420 and was the highest seat of power in China for 500 years. It became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987, but its status as a major world museum has been diminished because its peerless collection of Chinese history has not been categorized– until now.

Seven years of work have been poured into organizing the entire 1,807,558 pieces of cultural relics, the museum’s curator said. All of the relics in its archives, including about 53,000 paintings, 75,000 calligraphy works, 16,000 pieces of copperware and 10,000 sculptures have been ordered. The catalogue is due to be publicized.

In addition, the museum is developing its technological program to allow 3D tours, while the restoration project will eventually allow previously inaccessible parts of the museum to be opened up.

Shan told journalists in Beijing that it was his hope that the work being done would promote the Palace Museum into the same rank of museums as the St Petersburg Hermitage, the British Museum, the New York Met and the Louvre.


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